The 8 incisors are the very front teeth with rather flat surfaces, one root and a straight edge for cutting and biting the food.
The 4 canines are very strong, pointed corner teeth for tearing and shredding.
The 8 premolars behind the canines, with a flat upper surface and 1-2 roots. They are used for the chewing of the food.
The 12 molars are the back teeth with large and flat upper surface and 2-4 roots. They are used for the final chewing and grinding of the food before swallowing. (mola is the latin word for mill). Special Note: wisdom teeth are the last molars (one at every side of every jaw) and not another type of tooth. They need special care. Often times they erupt improperly and can cause significant problems.